Robbie Church released the team’s 2012 schedule on Tuesday, which includes matches against 14 squads who advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season, including two that competed in the NCAA College Cup. The Blue Devils return all 11 starters and 22 letterwinners from a 2011 team that registered a school-record 22 victories, advanced to the NCAA College Cup final and won the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) regular season title.DURHAM, N.C. - Duke women’s soccer head coach
“I think especially with all of the players we have coming back along with the new players coming in, we have a very talented team and we want to challenge them,” commented Church. “In the first four weeks of non-conference play, we want to put our team in tough environments and we’ve done a really good job of that.”
Duke will open its 2012 slate on the road at William & Mary on Aug. 17, followed by the home opener on Friday, Aug. 19 against Elon at 6:00 p.m., at Koskinen Stadium. The Blue Devils will then play in the UNC Nike Classic on Aug. 24 and 26 against the University of Montreal and Florida. Montreal is a squad from Canada so it will be a counting match for the Blue Devils. Over Labor Day weekend, Duke will travel across the United States to compete in the Trojan Invitational on Aug. 31 and Sept. 2.
“I’m excited about our schedule,” commented Church. “I think it’s a perfect schedule for the team that we will have. It’s going to challenge us at every turn, but I think it’s a good schedule for us.”
The Blue Devils will then host the Duke Nike Classic on Sept. 7 and 9 with San Diego, Marquette and North Carolina taking part. On Friday, Sept. 7, North Carolina will face Marquette at 5:00 p.m., followed by Duke versus San Diego. On Sunday, Sept. 9, the Tar Heels will take on San Diego beginning at 12:00 p.m., and the Blue Devils will face Marquette. All four teams in the Nike Classic participated in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
Duke will then open ACC action with a road trip at Florida State on Sept. 13 and at Miami on Sept. 16. Seeing action at home in Koskinen Stadium will be Maryland, Clemson, Boston College Wake Forest and North Carolina, while the Blue Devils will also travel to Virginia, Virginia Tech and N.C. State.
“We open up ACC play with probably the toughest trip in the ACC,” said Church. “Going down to play at Florida State and Miami the first weekend will be a great challenge for our team.”
Duke’s opponents for the upcoming season who advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2011 include South Carolina (exhibition), Boston College, Maryland, Virginia, Washington State, Virginia tech, Florida State, Wake Forest, Marquette, North Carolina, William & Mary, Florida, San Diego and Miami.
The Blue Devils will open practice for the 2012 campaign on Thursday, Aug. 2.
“We begin earlier than ever, starting on August 2, which is our first training session,” commented Church. “Obviously, we’re returning a lot of letterwinners from last year’s great season. We have a number of very good players coming into our program, too. It’s important for us to make sure that we keep the edge. We got a taste of playing in the College Cup and it was a wonderful experience. We’re going to work hard to get back there again. We play in an exciting league and very difficult league that will challenge us all along the course. We also have some outstanding non-conference games, but we’ll be excited when August comes around and we’re really, really looking forward to the year.”
Duke advanced to the NCAA College Cup for the first time since 1992 and for only the second time in school history as the Blue Devils registered a 22-4-1 overall record. With eight league victories, Duke notched a school-record win total in ACC action on its way to posting the second ACC regular season title in school history. The Blue Devils will return 91 percent of their scoring, including their top five scorers from a year ago.
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